Sunday, November 15, 2015

Don't Be A Golf Dinosaur!

Humor is a precious commodity that you cling to when someone you love is going through the horrible reality that accompanies cancer treatment.  Sometimes it's something that is truly funny,  and other times, it's something so ridiculous, but the timing is just perfect.  It becomes your go to . . . the thing you count on to bring a laugh,  a smile or even, just a little comfort.

You all know that it was only a matter of days from when MacKale was diagnosed with osteosarcoma that he had to start chemo.  We all were literally in a state of shell shock.  There was a lot of hurry up and wait during those first days . . . hurry up and wait for an MRI . . . hurry up and wait for a biopsy . . . hurry up and wait for a pathology report.  In reality it was only 2 days, but it seemed like forever and then it was only five days after that, less than a week from our first doctor's appointment regarding this mysterious leg injury, that we started chemo.  There was a lot down time in there . . . a lot of ESPN . . . and an even greater amount of The Golf Channel.  Mac hadn't had a whole lot of chances to watch that much television  in the past.  He was an active kid, he was playing soccer, golfing, outside playing, shooting basketballs . . . He never met a sport he didn't like.  He was actually scheduled to head to Arizona at the end of October for a golf clinic he had been nominated to attend for kids with hemophilia, but cancer kind of changed all that. It broke our heart to tell him that instead, he'd be getting cancer treatment.  Rather than playing sports, he was now watching sports to past the time.  There has been a lot of football and a lot of golf during these times.  In his hours of watching The Golf Channel,  Mac became obsessed with these crazy commercials.  There's these guys who try to schedule their tee times by phone, You know, the old fashion  way instead of using an online service. The commercials always end the same way, with the jilted golfer acting like a dinosaur  (like he imitates it in a ridiculously weird way) and the by-line is 'Don't Be a Golf Dinosaur.'  Here's one of the three commercials . . . you'll see what I mean.

When you're 11 years old, it's hilariously funny, and MacKale would giggle and tee hee every time one came on.  It became a running gag.  Mac would try to catch me off guard . . . 
Mac:  Mom? 
Me:  Yes! What do you need Mac?
Mac:  Don't be a golf dinosaur!?  (tee hee tee hee tee hee . . .  )
Me:   dang you . . . . (grrrrrrr)

It broke the tension.  It made us all laugh.  It was our 'funny thing.'   It was his thing. Then that first round of chemo started.  Doxorubicin!  With a Cisplatin chaser.  It is the most hideous, horrible  . . . and evil chemo.  The only reason I could stand watching MacKale go through it is the thought that it was just as evil and hideous to the cancer . . . I prayed and still pray that as bad as it was, it was worse for the cancer.  MacKale basically withdrew during this chemo.  When he wasn't sick and vomiting, he tried to sleep.  He didn't eat.  He didn't drink.  He didn't speak.  My outgoing, social boy . . . wasn't.  It was heart breaking . . . I was devastated and scared and beside myself.  Until one night, in the depths of the dark cocoon of blankets and puke buckets that surround him I heard a weak little voice . .  . "Mom?"  Oh my gosh . . . I had been frantically waiting for him to talk to me . . . come back to us . . . "What Mac?  What is it?  What can I do?"  And, of course, you know what I heard " . . . don't be a golf dinosaur . . . (hee...hee . . . hee) . . ."  DANG it!  He got me!  But I also knew, he'd be ok.  It was his way of saying . . . I'm still in here.  No sweeter words could a mother hear.  Mac was back!  Just a little glimmer at first . . . but he was there.

So in my quest to find him something to cheer him up during those first few days,  I went online frantically looking, searching and asking everyone I could think to ask, 'where can a purchase a "don't be a golf dinosaur" t-shirt, hat, something, anything . . . that I could get for MacKale.    They don't make them.  Dang it again.  I wasn't giving up so easily though.  You know how it is, your child is hurting, you'll do just about anything to bring a smile to his face. .  .even contact some huge company on the small chance they might be able to help. I wrote a note to the Golf Channel and the advertising agency that produced the commercial explaining how MacKale loved this commercial and telling them our story to see if by some crazy chance they had anything with 'don't be a golf dinosaur' on it that I could purchase for MacKale.  But guess what?  There was nothing I could buy. They said they would see what they could maybe find.  Well . . . I tried anyway.

Then this week marked our return to the hospital after two previous weeks of Methotrexate chemo therapy treatment.  This week we were back to face Doxorubicin and Cisplatin again!  Going back to the hospital is not amongst our favorite things these days as it is, but we were all a little apprehensive and scared about facing these two meds again.  Our doctors assured us that they had a better plan to get us through the side effects this time, and for the most part, they were right.  Instead of vomiting, Mac just slept . . . a lot . . . as in, he went to bed one afternoon and woke up two mornings later.  I basically helped him with his bathroom needs and he would crawl back into bed without so much as a peep.  I hated that . . . absolutely HATED that he wouldn't talk to me . . . it scares me and takes me to a dark place I don't like to go to . . .  but then on that last morning . . . as if on cue . . . I heard his weak little voice from deep under a mountain of pillow and blankets . . .  "Mom?" . . . "Yes MacKale, you're awake, what is it?  What do you need? . . ."  You guessed it . . ."don't be a golf dinosaur."  I cheered.  I hooted.  And I hollered, jumped in bed with him, gave him a squeezed and yelled . . . "HE'S BAAAAACK!!"  It was just a glimmer, but enough to reassure me that he was on his way.  We could pack up and head home from  DeVos to start the hard work towards recovering and  bouncing back from the chemo stupor that knocks him down so far I often fear he won't get up.

Home after Cisplatin is both a blessing and nerve-wracking.  It's a blessing to be home with the boys.  It's a blessing to try and find some normalcy for a few days.  It's a blessing because we are together.  But it's also so incredibly nerve-wracking and scary for me.  I don't have that back up of physicians and nurses who know how to care for him best.  Medicine is not my area of expertise.  This is not my 'gift.'  So I tiptoe around  . . . and hold my breath . . . This chemo sent him back to the hospital the last time.  So for the next 10 days I may look through everyone else around me, forget to exhale, fail to sleep until I know we are in the clear.   It's stressful, but still  . . . home is a blessing.

Yesterday we had an added blessing of sorts when we got home.  There was a big box waiting for MacKale. . . a box from The Golf Channel.

Not only had they come through and created something with 'don't be a golf dinosaur' for Mac and the whole family, but they had showered him with a plethora a Golf Channel goodies . . . (no more stealing tees from his brothers).

It was a gesture of kindness big enough to get him excited and looking forward to playing the game he loves so much.  It was amazing medicine for a boy who has been through so much already and has such a long road left to travel. MacKale loves sports . . . all sports . . . but quite honestly, golf is probably one of the few that he will be able to continue to play after his surgery.  This sports minded boy has so many challenges and changes ahead of him in regards to sports.  He will have to find new ways to enjoy the things he loves the most.  But golf . . . golf he can hold on to.   It will NOT be easy.  There will days of frustration and disappointment . . . we already see that when he says, 'I just want to go out and play.' But hopefully, the anticipation of a day hitting balls will almost be enough to make him forget all this chemo garbage and start thinking about how he is going to have to work on a new swing to compensate for his new 'salvaged' leg.  It gives him 'something' to reach for.  And for that . . . I love The Golf Channel.   They didn't have to go out of their way, but they did.  And I think that's pretty amazing.  More than the great 'stuff',  more than going out of their way to create this crazy t-shirt for Mac and all of us (yes, we will all be sporting one next year on the links), they have acknowledged our need for laughter through this horrible journey with their gifts and have given my sweet boy a smile and a renewed hope for some great golfing next summer.

Please continue to pray that God heals MacKale, that he gives him the strength to survive the after effects of chemo that ravage his body and that he rids MacKale's body of this horrible disease so that summer golfing hopes can become a reality!

And oh yeah . . . 'don't be a golf dinosaur!'


  1. Laughter through tears... laughter through tears! Love you!

  2. Oh how I love the golf channel even more now! My husband watches it a lot. That's just so awesome that they gave him those gifts! Rest up .mr. MacKale! You'll be ready for sports before you know it!

  3. Oh my goodness! I LOVE that the Golf Channel did this for MacKale! Great to hear that your little warrior is not losing his spirit! Prayers continuing for both of you and the rest of the family!

  4. oh my gosh marsha.....goose bumps, tears, and smiles all at once as I continue to read your journey. it hits so close to home having a boy the same age and a funny one, just like Mac...I can picture it...I can feel it...that boy is wise beyond his years and taking care of his momma with just those simple words...don't be a golf dinosaur....and praise high to the Golf Channel and to you for getting ahold of them.....on my mind constantly...xoxoxo Krissy

  5. You are the BEST mom ever! And kudos to the Golf Channel for sending Mac such a treasure trove of goodies. Please tell Mac that I have an important message for him..."Mac, NEVER be a golf dinosaur!"

  6. Peace and prayers sent your way!

  7. Awesome job Marsha! What a wonderful surprise to bring a smile to all of your faces! I am now a fan of the Golf Channel! Keeping MacKale and your whole family in my prayers!!

  8. Smiling through the tears Marsha! What an awesome thing to do for MacKale! Hugs from us!

  9. You are such a wonderful mom Marsha! What a sweet gift from The Golf Channel! A sweet surprise for Mac and all of you! Keeping you all in my continued prayers!

  10. I was hoping you were going to finish with "and we got a big box from The Golf Channel"! How awesome! Love that someone followed through with your request! :-)

    When Mel was inpatient for shingles and chemical meningitis during treatment we were isolated on another floor far away from the cancer kids - she felt really icky and wasn't speaking much either. At one point I was watching the news, and said to her, "there's a hurricane heading for Florida as we speak". Without missing a beat this sweet little voice cried out "don't speak!". Still makes me smile whenever I hear the phrase "as we speak", and that was over 12 years ago! At that point I knew she was starting to feel better. It truly is the little things that helps get through those dark days.

    I'm so glad his team came up with a plan so he didn't feel so bad this time around, although I can see how having him so sleepy would be a little scary. It's amazing how resilient their little bodies are, and I think you'll be surprised at how well he'll recover after chemo is done.

    I prayed (as always) for you in church this morning, and continue to keep you close in thought each day. Hang in there, you're being such a great mom right now. You don't have to be 'medical' to know what he needs, just that you're the one who knows him best, and can be his caregiver and his advocate for what he needs.

    Take care,

    1. There are some things that I write and think 'only a cancer mom is going to understand this.' Thank you for being a voice of hope, encouragement and understanding Kathi.

  11. Definitely teared up a few times there. I am sending all my positive thoughts your way! Strength for you and your family!

  12. Wow. I am beyond proud to be a Golf Channel/GolfNow employee. Everyone that I work with here has so much passion for the game and for the golfers who enjoy this game. It puts a smile on my face to know that we were able to help this family in such a hard time. I wish you all the very best.

  13. I think I just fell in love with the Golf Channel. How incredibly kind of them. Its times like this where the moments of laughter and kindness of others can give you so much strength. I hope you can feel all the love and prayers being sent your way. You are incredible and such an amazing advocate for your son and my gosh he is such a fighter. I hope this week brings you many more moments of laughter and joy. Stay strong! If you are looking for some ways to brighten all your boys days try connecting with the incredible organization Friends of Jaclyn. They connect children fighting cancer with local college and high school sports teams- the children and their siblings basically become honorary members of team. Its so beautiful to witness. Here's the link if you are interested (I am in no way connected to this organization but witnessed some of the magic they do a few years ago firsthand- truly incredible) Hope your boys can connect with a team and experience some more moments of joy and great big belly laughs. *hugs*